Equal Rights Amendment

Equal Rights Amendment

SJRCA0004 (ERA) Update
Both the Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women Committee and the CBA overall are supportive of Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJRCA0004), by which Illinois would request ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The matter overcame its supermajority requirement in the Senate in April and has until mid-January 2019, when the 100th General Assembly ends, to overcome the supermajority requirement in the House (minimum of 71 votes).  The matter came out of the House Human Services Committee on May 16 on a partisan role call and must be read one more time in the House before a House vote can be called. For ongoing information please visit:
Please ask your House Representative to show his/her support as this issue comes to a vote!

Text of the Equal Rights Amendment ("ERA"):

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after ratification.


Brief History of Efforts to Pass the ERA:

In 1972, more than a half century after Alice Paul and one of her colleagues proposed an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to guarantee gender equality, Congress approved the ERA which then required ratification by at least 38 states. In its passage of the ERA, Congress established a deadline of 1979 for the fifty States to vote their individual approvals, a deadline which Congress extended once--to 1982. By 1982, 35 states approved the ERA, leaving the necessary ratification number 3 states short.


Recent Actions Regarding ERA

Though it was not forgotten, the issue fell off the radar in succeeding years. In 2012, however, to mark the 40th anniversary of Congress' passage of the ERA, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a new version of the ERA in Congress and called for its passage by means of a "fresh start approach". Thereafter, on July 24, 2015, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, with Congresswoman Maloney by her side, held a press conference on the U.S. Supreme Court steps in Washington, D.C. to announce her proposal for passage of the ERA through legislation that advocates for the "three state solution" which would eliminate the timeline by seeking ratification from three more states.

In February 2017 Illinois State Senator Heather Steans introduced SJRCA4 into the Illinois Senate. On April 11, 2018 the Illinois Senate approved the Joint Resolution a vote of 43-12, more than the three-fifth majority necessary for ratification. If SJRCA4 is approved by the Illinois House, Illinois will have ratified the ERA.

Many legal organizations and non-profit legal and other advocacy groups have expressed support for reinvigorating the movement for ERA passage. As one example, in June of 2016 the Illinois State Bar Association, with the unanimous vote of its 300+ member Assembly, approved by motion the ISBA’s support of the Equal Rights Amendment.


Resources Available to Learn More about the ERA in Illinois

For more information on the status of the ERA in Illinois, please view the CLE program recorded on October 31, 2016, at the CBA by the Joint CBA/WBAI Task Force on Women and Aging in co-sponsorship with several bar groups. The program offers a detailed explanation of the process by which the ERA, like any proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, would become embodied in the Constitution; what benefits would accrue to all individuals from a gender equity amendment, and what impact the failure by the requisite number of states to ratify Congress’ 1972 passage of the ERA could have on subsequent efforts; what the effect would be on future efforts to pass the ERA of the rescinding by several states since 1982 of their earlier ratifications; and whether, when and how the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on the issues. The program is available to view here. Written materials are available here.  In preparation for the October 31, 2016 Equal Rights Amendment Program, past CBA President Laurel Bellows was interviewed by Larry Suffredin, the CBA’s Legislative Counsel and Lobbyist, about how the ERA would benefit women particularly in the legal profession. That interview is available here.  The video for a second CBA program regarding the ERA held on September 26, 2017 is available here.